Wednesday, May 24, 2006

And not just Mexico

In some comment a while back I did some back of the envelope figures on the cost of chartering 747s and pontificated that a future US "guest worker" program would really mean crop pickers from anywhere on the planet, and not just people coming over the southern border. Well, in Yakima Washington it is already happening, with Thai labor. Seattle Times article in VDARE via Maggie's Farm.

Politically, this kind of thing could get very interesting, very fast.


chuck said...

I remember reading of something similar in England where farmers were hiring Lithuanians and Poles. I may have the details wrong, it was a while ago.

Eric said...

A lot of it has to do with how nurses are paid, and the doctor/nurse dynamic as it applies to medicine as an industry.

Unknown said...


At last...something I might actually know something is not only nurses, look at therapists. My company has three full time physical therapists, two are Filipino and one is Polish and they make very good money for the area. I asked about this and there are different responses. Some people say the schools here in the US restrict numbers in the hopes of keeping pay high, however the companies are not forbidden to hire someone from a different country. I heard a report on NPR not long ago about a nurse's shortage in South Africa because so many of them have come here. The US is always looking for English speaking nurses. There are actually two year program for RNs but physical therapy degrees might take a little more time. Still, the pay is not bad.

I think that people just do not want to do this kind of work. There is nothing glamorous about it or cool and there is always the possibility of being sued and there is a pecking order in health care that would make a feudal society look progressive. If I had not farmed for so long and been as old as I was I would have gone to school to do more because the field is open and growing.

truepeers said...

Skook, Canada has a temporary worker program, and you know those BC greenhouse tomatoes you mentioned a while ago, well, some of them are picked by seasonal Mexican laborers who, I imagine, are flown in since it would probably be about as cheap as busing.

Rick Ballard said...


Part of the shortage may be caused because some of the suggested high school work - "algebra, biology, chemistry and physiology. A chemistry course with laboratory experience in a college or university with a grade of “C” or better is required as rerequisite to the basic science courses." is a bit challenging for the "math is hard, let's go shopping" portion of our high school population. It's part and parcel with the various programs pushed by the NEA which have resulted in high school students being able to write poorly about how they feel about algebra without actually having any ability to do algebra.

You have the RN wage levels correct - $36K low start to $60K upper end and it only takes five semesters (about 75 units) to get there but someone with the competency expressed by completing the prerequisites would be wise (from an economic standpoint) to spend another three semesters in a slightly different field which would offer greater high end opportunities.

More on topic, I read this morning, but can't find, an article on German farmers and how happy they are with imported Polish farm labor - and how dissatisfied they are with native Germans coming off of unemployment to do the work.

buddy larsen said...

Truepeers, what nationality are the seasonal Mexicans during their other seasons?
(\;-D -- sorry!)

truepeers said...

More grand larceny...

Rick Ballard said...


BTW - I'm still working through your observation concerning a diagnosis of gnosticism rather than a perversion of Hobbes by Hegel as being down there in the root causes for the idiocy on display in education. If you run into Johnny Canuck, maybe you could explain it to him so that he could write about it in Exoteric. You gotta shoot for Thrasymachus if you want to hit everybody.

I think I agree with what you wrote but I'm unsure as to how completely I understood it.

chuck said...

More grand larceny...

Did you mean Buddy Larceny?

truepeers said...

Sorry, this is going OT, to answer Rick, above.

First, Larsen's humour evokes in me the phrase "grand larceny"; i don't know why exactly - maybe sometimes the joke's so bad it's good, though sometimes it's just so good, one of bad faith might suspect it must be bad - but maybe the point of puns is there is no good reason for every queer word association.

Second, JC on Gnosticism: Gnosticism has various historical incarnations, though most usually the word refers to the early Christian Gnostics who wrote the Gospels left out of the New Testament. In any case, the word, Gnosis, predates Christianity, and has etymological roots that tie it to concepts of imagination and beauty (it's related to cosmetic).

But my point is not to try and pinpoint a definition of Gnosticism, but to recognize that there is a recurring tendency in wetern history for intellectuals to war with reality and to propose instead what we might generally call a Gnostic - imaginary, perfected - world in its place. And I was suggesting that we should give more attention to the fundamental mental or cultural reasons for this tendency, rather than try to pinpoint the problem of the intellectuals with reference to specific individuals, be it Hegel, Marx, Rousseau, Sartre, or whoever else has undoubtedly had much influence on the formulations of our intellectuals. Influence, per se, does not show that the influential individual is the original source of the heresy we seek to understand.

There is one common or popular understanding of the Gnostics, as represented for example in the Da Vinci Code - I haven't read it but I I believe, Judas (with reference to the recently discovered Gospel according to Judas?) is portrayed as someone who recognizes that Christ is not the son of God as the rest of the apostles understand God. For the Gnostics, the God who created our worldly world was a fallen, faulty, God, and not the ultimate creator of the universe. But the evidence of this superior or ultimate creation is only seen by the Gnostic master, i.e. those sufficiently astute and learned in secret or hidden knowledge. Thus only Judas really knew the symbolism Christ wanted to effect with his passion. And thus the Da Vinci's present-day Gnostics discover, contrary to mainstream institutional authority, evidence of the sacred feminine that has been hidded by the patriarchal church. This Gnostic claim would seem to deny the hard worldly reality that the sacred first emerged, not in some feminine garden of Eden, but in a world in need of putting restraint on male violence. Hisotrically, men have dominanted religion - with all due respect to feminine and matriarchal cults - because it is their violence that religion first came into being to control. Now this is the kind of "patriarchal" claim about the nature of human reality that our academic Gnostics would chew me to bits for making.

While Gnostic ideas have many specific historical incarnations, they are also more generally the product of a culture that lives, very consciously, in its history and sees itself unveiling and unfolding the lessons of this history. This historical consciousness seems to provide license for the various heresies that reject historical reality as we have received it, and propose instead possessing of some secret or specialized knowledge that could serve as the agency of our liberation from a fallen reality. But since there is much about reality that is not open to endless mutation according to the whims of the imagination, the Gnostics generally fail to change reality, and even as they are humiliated by the impotency of their symbolic speculations to change the world, they invest more and more in their word games and build great intellectual systems as alternatives to facing up fully to the world and human being as it really is.

The reality is, that we don't know all that much about the mystery of creation, and we can't control the world and new creation with our intellectual systems. Rather, wisdom proposes that we live in good faith, not in any kind of intellectual certainty. This is the lesson that our intellectuals generally refuse to learn. They don't want to recognize limits on their reason. And this refusal, I am suggesting, long pre-dates Hegel's grand hsitorical system.

buddy larsen said...

Let me help. 'Peers said "...seasonal Mexican laborers" when he meant "Mexican seasonal laborers". So, I kidded him, and he he replied by making an unconscionably nasty pun off the surname of my beloved--and now angry--honored ancestors.

Beware the Wrath of Thor ("I done thet here too long and now my butt ith thor").

Luther said...

At work so short.

TP - I was not but had a good friend who was, but it sounds as if you are describing the "Rosicrucian's". I don't know if you have ever heard of them of course. Sorry I just thought that funny.

BL, thor my ... Terrye was right, you are hopeless :-)

Rick Ballard said...

"but to recognize that there is a recurring tendency in wetern history for intellectuals to war with reality and to propose instead what we might generally call a Gnostic - imaginary, perfected - world in its place."

That was my understanding of your intent. Gnosticism has always carried (in my mind, at any rate) an implication of revelation rather than one of knowledge acquired by observation and reason. It seems to me that reason shifted into a manifestation of the demiurge rigtht about the time that Descartes scribbled cogito ergo sum.

Perhaps that means less than I believe it does and the manifestations involving the theft of scientific language and its reduction to scientistic language are only an attempt at developing an exoteric speech to cover ideas so rarefied that only those of the highest rational capability are capable of understanding. That would truly be a return to gnosticism as I understand it. It just seems that the rationalists are more narcissist than gnostic. Or at least attainted with a walloping dose of hubris which does not appear to be wearing off.

How many times are they going to walk into the wall before realizing that imagining a door doesn't make a door?

truepeers said...

Buddy, as your ancestors are hopefully aware, the word `grand' is essential to the pun; whenever I think Larsen, grand goes with it, for ye are a great people famous for seafaring and much else besides.

truepeers said...

Luther, I don't know much about the Rosicrucians but I think they might fit under a broad understanding of Gnostic.

Yet it raises a recurring question. How broadly should we apply hte term? After all, we all, to some degree, indulge in imaginative fancy at the expense of reality. This is the problem, as Rick's comments suggest. The term is used broadly by some scholars and has no precise or standard meaning.

I don't think we can clarify things much more with a distinction of knowledge from revelation vs. knowledge from reason. I think all reason stems from revelations of one kind or another. They are simply two stages of a single human process. We are not inclined to see this since the nature of revelation is sufficiently mysterious and many who reason become fearful of acknowleding the role of revelation in human knowledge because they fear it would imply a belief in the superatural, or some special communicaiton therewith - which it need not - and so we tend to deny the anthropology of revelation that it is the job of reason to unfold and explore.

It's just that we are also readily capable of false revelations, which our reason should come to reject, but in the case of the Gnostic does not.

Luther said...

Well TP there is no reason for you to learn more about the Rosicrucian's. Just think of them as Mason's writ small.

"revelation in human knowledge because they fear it would imply a belief in the supernatural"

Quite frankly, everyday is a revelation for me. I wake, open my eyes and breathe. The mystery continues.

But seriously, it is important to realize (for me at least) that reason and logic would seem to always be just short of the "Big Truth".

Apologies for the personal here, but, I experienced events during my time in S. Vietnam that neither reason nor logic explain. Nor, do I think they ever will. I saw death alight on a shoulder before the event. On another occasion, I saw evil incarnate, just for an instant, with no trace left, when there should have been. No, I'm not nuts.

I guess my point is that, for the Gnostic, symbols and higher powers would be invoked to explain the above. But such could be known only to the chosen few.

I could then turn that around and use Rick's;

"exoteric speech to cover ideas so rarefied that only those of the highest rational capability are capable of understanding."

And end up with essentially the same thing.

I guess I would fall back on the old dictum... If it can't be explained so that the simplest can understand it... then what good is it?

buddy larsen said...

"Gnostic" as a word, won't verse;

to try it is to bring the curse

of choosing either sticks or stones

(the names of things which break the bones),

and cruel queries of "Want the stone?"

To which the answer is "Nah, stick."

truepeers said...

Luther, there are many things about ourselves that we are a long way form understanding. But, you ask, what good is something if we can't understand it? Well, mystery plays a fundamental role in human affairs. When everyone understands something, the value of the knowledge understood is discounted to nothing by the marketplace. But when uncertainty is in the air, the full dynamic of human interaction is permitted. It is the unknown, the mystery, that keeps us in motion, exchanging signs and things in our search for further insight and meaning. This is why there is a market for Gnosticism, among other things. The problem with the Gnostic is not his recognition of mystery, but rather his ego that wants to claim special knowledge as a project to move the world, and hence to control others in a way that denies that all should be positioned equally around the mystery that is at the center of our world.

truepeers said...

No more funny names, I promise, Buddy!

buddy larsen said...

"Peers, it's the great anti-gnostic poet Bob Dylan's birthday today--your meditations reminded me of the close of "Talkin' WWIII Blues":

Well, the doctor interrupted me just about then,
Sayin', 'Hey, I've been havin' the same old dreams,
But mine was a little different you see.
I dreamt the only person left after the war was me.
I didn't see you around.'

Well, now time passed and now it seems
Everybody's having them dreams.
Everybody sees their self walkin' around with no one else.
Half of the people can be part right all of the time,
And some of the people can be all right part of the time,
But all of the people can't be all right all of the time.
I think Abraham Lincoln said that.
'I'll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours.'
I said that.